Chapter Seven

Tony was going to go stir crazy cooped up in this old lighthouse.  Everywhere he looked he saw Marah.   It was here that they had made love for the first time.  Blocking out the world they had finally come together in what he considered his one perfect moment.   It may be his greatest memory, but it was also contributing to his frustration.  That and being so close to his family and not being able to do anything about it.  He still wasn’t sure what he was going to tell Danny and Michelle, or his brother Ray for that matter.  Maybe he should go see Ray first, he always seemed to know what to do.  He was the one who supported Danny and Michelle through their many relationship woes, he’d helped Tony himself through his relationship with Marah.  Yeah maybe Ray was his best bet.

The door to the lighthouse opened and Rafael entered bearing a bag with the Company logo on it.  “Quite a town you have here.  Not sure if this place is any good but it seemed to be pretty popular with the locals.”

Tony’s stomach rumbled.  Even if he hadn’t liked Company, which he knew he used to, at this point he’d eat just about anything. “Thanks.  Company sounds like manna from Heaven right now.”

Tony started to bite into his burger ravenously.  Oh man this WAS good.

“I met your lady tonight.”

Tony nearly choked on the bite he’d just taken, “Marah?  Marah’s in town?”  All thoughts of eating were forgotten as he stood up as if to go to her.  She was HERE.  It had to be a sign.  He could be at her place in a matter of minutes, hell he’d run if he had to.

Rafael just looked at him with his usual grin, “She suits you.  She has a softness to her but also some fire.  Nearly decked a man who was coming on to her something fierce.”

The anger that flared within Tony was sudden and unpredictable.  Someone had laid a hand on Marah?  Logically he knew that she’s probably been with other men in the six years that he’d been out of her life.  And in a way he was glad, he didn’t want her to put her life on hold for him.  But logic had nothing on his long-held instinct to protect her.  It was those instincts that had him wanting to hunt the man down and feed him his teeth for dinner.

Rafael placed his hand on the younger man’s shoulder, “Son, you are at war with yourself.”

And just like that the anger drained out him only to be replaced by shame and doubt, “My first instinct was to go and beat the man like he no doubt deserves.  What does that say about me?  Our last fight, the fight that broke Marah and me up for good, was because I beat some guy I thought was hurting her.  You should have seen the fear in her eyes.  You could tell that she feared me, feared the violence being directed at her.  I can’t blame her for giving up on me, she is better off without me tainting her life.”

“I can’t pretend to know how you feel but I will tell you this, you are a good man Tony Santos.  You lived a rough life so yes, your first instinct is to fight back.  But that’s not the sole thing that defines you.  How many men live six years locked away without cracking?  How many men hold on so that they could come back to those that love you?  It takes strength, it takes fortitude, and you have both of those things.  This is your chance to start a new life.  Let the past go and stop letting it dictate your future.”

***

Marah loved shopping on main street.  With its quaint little shops and low-key atmosphere it was the perfect place to indulge in a little retail therapy.  She’d gotten used to the chaos around the house, but this morning Reva had left for an overnight conference for cancer patients.  Reva’s brush with death had inspired her to encourage others which was pretty awe-inspiring.  She would have had Collin for company but he was having a sleepover with one of his friends from t-ball.  Ever her dad was busy building some new condominiums and wouldn’t be home for the next few days.  So Marah was flying solo and was frankly bored as hell.

“Marah!  So glad I found you. You busy?”  She turned to find Jonathan rushing towards her with little Sarah in tow.

“Just doing a little shopping.” She replied indicating her bags, ” What’s up?”

“I need a huge favor.”

Jonathan asking her for a favor?  Yeah they had definitely turned a corner on this brother/sister thing. “Okay, shoot.”

“Sarah’s babysitter is sick with the flu.  And mom is at her conference, Bill and Lizzie are out-of-town, and I need to meet Josh and Billy at the new construction site in an hour.  Would you please be my favorite sister and watch Sarah for the day?”

“Sure I’d be more than happy to. ”

“You’re a lifesaver!  I should be home around ten or ten-thirty since I have a meeting with the bank president tomorrow to go over renovation plans.”  He picked up his daughter and hugged her tight. “Be good for Aunt Marah.  I’ll be home tonight I promise.  Now give me some sugar.”

Once they were alone Marah held out her hand, “Alright princess you ready to shop till we drop?”  After the day on the beach the little girl had started to warm up to her.  She was still wary but she grabbed her hand and nodded.  Progress.

***

“He we are!” Marah had worked fashion shows that hadn’t drained her as much as a day of shopping with Sarah.  She was a shopping demon, and a girl after her own heart. She placed their mountain of purchases and the mail on the kitchen counter.  “You want to get some pizza and watch a movie?” “Like a girl night?”

Even better was seeing that Sarah was over her shyness.  And Marah could say with absolute certainty that the girl was a delight.  She was inquisitive, bright, and a hodge-podge of contradictions.  She could be a girlie girl about her clothes but then if there was a mess to be found she was right there in the thick of it.  Guess it was to be expected being Lizzie Spaulding Lewis and Jonathan’s Randall’s daughter.  Those two were themselves like oil and water.  “Yeah like a girl night.”

“Okay, but none of those girlie movies.  Let’s watch something scary.”

Lovely.

***

Sarah had crashed early.  Marah was the one who couldn’t sleep.  She went into the kitchen for some water when she saw the package.  She had passed it off as something for her mother but looking at it again realized it was addressed to her.

“Probably from Phillipe.  He’s probably mad I haven’t FedExed any designs yet.”

She ripped it open and what fell into her hands forced a gasp from her lungs.  “What sick twisted…”.  Her thoughts were cut off when she heard a creak on the back porch.

“Oh God!”  Whoever sent the package must be back to finish the job.  She grabbed the first thing that she came in contact with.  A sauce pan?  “Oh great.  I’m so going to die.”  But she wasn’t going down without a fight.  She raised the pan above her head ready to do business with whoever came through the door.

The doorknob turned and in the doorway stood a dark figure of a man.   Marah brought the pan down as hard as she could…

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